Like the White Rabbit of Wonderland we’re slaves to a tyrannical master, only ours isn’t a fickle monarch – it’s much worse.
Time is a man-made invention, we all know this. From the outmoded wisdom of sunrises and sunsets that dictated the opportunities of agribusiness to the manufacture of the first mechanical watch and beyond, time has been a vested human interest and is probably the single most important determiner of all categories of our existence. Everything about us is defined by and over time – we may be the creators and followers of time, but we are undoubtedly slaves to our own invention. Indeed the exact measurements of the simplest to the most complex actions carried out by us are all controlled by the concept of time.
Just start off this train of thought by thinking about how you operate on a daily basis (I won’t guide this by statistical analysis, just common knowledge): you wake up – what’s the first thing you do? If you’re like me and you are under no illusions as to who the real master is you’ll turn to the nearest time-telling device, in my case the clock on my mobile, and instantly start planning out your day from there. You proceed to dash or lurch about (depending on the night before) getting ready by running through the essentials like showering and brushing your teeth, followed soon after by breakfast (depending on your habits you may choose to eat breakfast before brushing – my way means I can eat as I leave).
All this and everything else I do in accordance with the constraints of time, which is optimal for the agenda but not so much for the self. It is something I am constantly aware of, and also something I fervently lament about – but not for too long because time is money, which is not far from the mind-controlling truth. The reality of time is that it is inescapable and domineering, like those pangs of the gut you get after missing a meal or the presence of a bodyguard as you attempt to hurl worship at a fleeting celebrity; only with time there is an inherent artificiality to be witnessed. We accept that in order to survive in this frequently mundane world we must keep to our schedule and meet our dreaded deadlines, but simultaneously we also consent to a configuration of our minds by the universal device of time, as induced by the concept.
When we look to the closest clock and register the disparity between our bodily functions and the pace of the clock-hand or flashing digits, our reactions are interminably committing us to the intrinsic design of time. Here there is no plurality of choice, no sense of distinction. There is only the rush of information and exertion of the mind and body obeying this perpetual torrent as we struggle to keep pace with our agendas, whether they are estimated by the second or the century. Time is, at least for me, the cause of the most definitive displeasure.
As a busy person and a persistent thinker, I like to know that there is time for me to do what is required of me to stay focused and maintain order in my life; I’m always striving for equilibrium. By my agenda I hope to achieve this. But that monumental prick in my side, Time, is never far from pushing me over the edge; this she does by testing my individuality. I buy a newspaper and I HOPE that I will have time to read all the articles that interest me – fail. I have several assignments to work on and I WISH to perfect them to the best of my ability – fail again. I also DESIRE to begin concretising an intriguing idea for a story that has been buzzing about the regions of my brain for several weeks – ultimate fail! Time is perennially poking fun at me by limiting me to the imperatives and postponing the passions. The case often manifests when I finally find time to pursue these passions but I’m lost for the energy needed to support them.
So what am I to do about this insensitive artifice Time? In my dalliances I fashion radical notions that deface time. I imagine days brought together to make them longer – would a day that lasts for double the time it now does be so difficult to swing? People would complain that the week is made longer by this, but then why not reduce the week to just four days? A four day week lasting the length of eight whole days would be a blessing. The workload of two days becomes that of one or the workload of four days only two, thus giving us more time.
You might think this is ludicrous, but you only think that because time has existed as it currently does for so long. Any revolution in time would entail an overhaul on everything, but in the sense of limiting the rush we could be compensating ourselves with time with adequate space attached. A widening of the space of time would make so much more possible because the rush would be controlled – WE would begin to limit time, not the other way round.
We could even chuck the labels of days out the window and stop personifying time. No more mournful Monday or saintly Sunday – just days when we can be ourselves, even while working to fulfil our necessary agendas. Time is much stronger than it is because we give it an identity – without dates and digits time is as indivisible as it is invisible. But then I’m brought to another speculative question: are WE divisible without time?
In the end all of my ideas must be rendered implausible and, if I were to spend more time calculating the differences indicated by changing resolute time, relatively stupid (I’ll be the first to admit my maths is substandard). In reality there is only time, to which we are all slaves, or at least until we cease to be useful to society and our ‘productive time’ is nullified. And don’t start accusing me of being ageist – it’s true. Apart from time to contemplate the things we love, freedom from the actual time device is too little too late. Nevertheless, we make the most of what we can salvage, whether we’re still slaves or the aged free. I suppose in time we resolve to make our own time to counter that which controls us; we resort to walking great distances across beautiful countryside or drinking large quantities of mediocre booze to quell the rush and force back the tide of time, if only for a blip of the time a whole lifetime takes.
For now I guess I’m just another faint shadow walking the timeline. But as I sit stuck behind a computer with my hands glued to the keyboard, I look past it through a window and out at a gorgeous blue sky that somehow tells me there isn’t as much to worry about as I think there is. And maybe that’s where the relief lies: the vast blue of both the sky and the ocean. Maybe we’re all just running through the middle of a divide in infinite space that knows no concept of time. If so, there’s still hope for those plentiful passions.